Contraband control tips for Valentine’s Day

While contraband control is a year-round endeavor, facilities can see a spike in trading of illicit goods over the Valentine’s Day holiday


To the average person, Valentine’s Day means chocolate, cherubs, flowers and romance. To the corrections professional, this holiday can be the gateway to disorder and danger in correctional facilities requiring coordinated contraband control.

Visits and mail may increase in February because of the holiday. Certainly not all mail and visits are necessarily dangerous. Still, staff might still find an increase in the following contraband items around mid-February:

  • Photographs with backing to conceal notes or small doses of drugs;
  • Complicated envelopes that offer opportunities to hide small items;
  • Electronic messages with codes, anagrams and covert instructions designed to thwart security;
  • Candy, gifts, flowers and staffs’ personal notes accidentally introduced into the facility;
  • Drawings and artwork from family members who inadvertently use drug-laced crayons.

Since contraband equals power, anything with value to offenders deserves attention. How can staff maintain safety in the face of increases in contraband?

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